My last article, starting pitcher projections.  Today, break out the Rolaids, ‘cause it's Mets reliever time. How'd they do last year, AND what up with this year, dog?

Boy, did it look bleak early last year. Bobby Parnell, fresh off serious neck surgery, wasted no time in blowing the first game save....and his Tommy John ligament.  So...let's try Farnsworth...yuk.  Valverde? Yuk squared.

Two things looked obvious for the pen.  Doom.  And Gloom.

They got lucky.  Jenrry Mejia wanted to start and wanted no part of the pen...made 7 largely ineffective starts, got switched to the pen, and despite the late start there and having essentially no experience as a closer, he rocked it with 28 saves.  JEN-RRY!!!

Best closer in the league?  No.  But did he do fine and fill a huge gap capably?  Yes.  And he's got GUTS!
My favorite memory of Jenrry was a game vs. Philly, where it came down to him vs. Ryan Howard, who pointed his bat menacingly at Mejia to psyche him out, but Mejia did not flinch, but stared in for what seemed like ages, and looked like he was really ENJOYING this head-to-head. The fact that Howard won this battle was irrelevant.

Some think Parnell gets his closer role back over Mejia.  I don't see why.  Jenrry’s to lose, IMO.

The 2014 pen also had very unexpectedly good performances from Josh Edgin, Dana Eveland, and Buddy Carlyle, who combined for 3-2, and a 1.78 ERA in 86 innings.

2014 also marked the emergence of Jeurys Familia.  I was highly confident that he'd excel when in 2013 winter ball, he struggled after his elbow chip surgery....until his last 4 2/3 shutout innings when he K'd ELEVEN.  Eleven Ks in 4.2 innings spells overwhelming dominance.  Right there, I felt big things were coming.  Right assessment.  Familia was just 2-5, but sported a 2.21 ERA in 77 innings over 76 games.

Who else? Vic Black had a terrible spring, another guy who helped inspire early season Doom and Gloom.  But he got it together, after a minor league stint, and had a solid season (2-3, 2.60, in 34.2 innings).

Of course, on the low budget Mets, there were bargain bin guys, not all of whom will work out.  Lannan and Germen are 2 that come to mind.  Dice K did a decent job and Carlos Torres was fine (except for the 11 relief homers he allowed in 92 innings), so the bargain bin did pretty well in 2014.

                                In 2015, I see bullpen improvement.  

Now-seasoned guys like Mejia, Black, and Familia should excel.  A returning Parnell (2.16, 22 saves in 2013) too - I still doubt he'll be back on opening day, though, just 12 months after TJ surgery.  I see a Montero and/or a Gee helping them avoid the bargain bin crap-heap.  Good righty arms in Cory Mazzoni and Hansel Robles to tap into as needed. 

 Eveland and Carlyle, as noted, were bargain bin beauties.

But Farnsworth, Valverde, Germen, Rice, and Lannan were bargain bin busts: 51 earned runs in 87 innings.  Going to the bargain bin too often is a great way to sabotage a season.  A lot less of that is likely in 2015.

After Edgin, another pen lefty of quality should emerge, out of Jack Leathersich, Dario Alvarez, or Sean Gilmartin. None of those three is a sure thing in 2015, much less of Andrew Miller quality.  I think the 2nd lefty slot represents the most risk to the Mets in the pen going into 2015; it can perhaps be coped with by going with just one lefty at the season’s start.

Tainted by the early season bad bullpen, the Mets' relievers went a mediocre 22-28, but with a decent ERA of3.14 and 466 Ks in 478 relief innings...but with only 42 saves in 64 save opportunities.  

In my last article, I projected a stronger starting staff, supported by stronger offense, to go 72-48.  

I see the pen going 20-22, with an ERA of3.00 or less and far fewer blown save opportunities with a more stable, seasoned bullpen.  

Whoops, adding the projected starter and reliever W-L #s together, I guess that puts me at 92 wins, up from last year's 79.  

 Make sense to me?  Yes.  Why?

·       A stronger offense, which I project to score 120 more runs than 2014.  

·       A stronger starting rotation, winning a lot more games with the aid of better run support, and...  

·       A stronger pen, especially at the start of 2015 vs. 2014.

 I could be wrong...I hope I am right.

To help you see my overall pitching logic, I am adding below my recent article on the starters, and my chart of offensive increases/decreases projected by position.  See what you think.  I was not optimistic going in to 2014, but I'm very optimistic now.  92 wins.  

The Mets ranked 9th overall in ERA in 2014 at 3.49, behind the Nats (3.03 – 1st) and Braves (3.38 – 5th) in their Division.
I will analyze their overall performance in 2014, and then give my view on 2015.
The starters went just 57-55, with a 3.67 ERA, leaving 50 decisions to the bullpen arms.  Pretty generous of them.  The bullpen guys thank them.
51 of those 57 wins were from the basic starting 5 (deGrom, Wheeler, Colon, Niese and Gee), with 6 other wins spread between Montero, Matsuzaka, and Mejia.  Other than the basic starting 5, 25 games were started by those other 3 gents, including a spot start from Torres.
I think we’ll see some starter improvement in 2015 – forces aiding and hindering that in 2015 are itemized below:
1)      Harvey’s Back – let’s say Harvey bumps Gee, who had a 4.00 ERA in 2014 in 137 innings.  Likely a big improvement there.

2)      A Full Season of deGrom – 2.69 ERA overall, and 2.16 in his last 100 innings, over 22 starts.  What will he do with 32 starts?  Some hint at some regression.  I’m thinking possible Cy Young.

3)      Wheeler Ready to Blossom – first 3 months of 2014, he had a weak 4.26 ERA.  Last 3 months, he went 2.52 in 100 innings.  My guess?  His full 2015 is much closer to his 2nd half excellence.

4)      Better Starting Production from the Fill Ins: Torres, Mejia, Matsuzaka, and Montero were not bad (6-6, 4.23 in 137 innings over 25 starts), but I think this year’s fill in pitchers (likely to be less fill-in and more transitional – e.g., Thor, maybe Matz, or a seasoned Montero instead of last year’s more transient bunch) will toss to a better ERA.

5)      Better Starting Production from the Promoted:  2 or 3 of Niese, Colon, and Gee are likely to head out this year, leaving a rotation of Harvey, deGrom, Wheeler, Thor, and Montero or Matz.  Niese, Colon, and Gee combined to pitch to an ERA of 3.83.  I already bumped Gee for Harvey above, so Niese and Colon were a combined 3.76.  I think the young call ups can do as well or perhaps a bit better.

1)      Shorter fences will lift ERAs a bit, but the three pitchers most often spoken about as being likely to depart (Niese, Colon, and Gee) gave up 57 of their 141 homers surrendered (40%) in their 527 innings (36% of the Mets’ innings).  57 in 527 innings (or 1 every 9.24 innings) is a tad high.  Syndergaard and Matz have only given up 34 homers (26 and 8 respectively) over 702 innings (427 and 275, respectively) in the minors.  That’s 1 every 20.64 innings.   So I think those 2, while neophytes in terms of not yet being in the bigs, will surrender fewer homers per inning than the veterans they may replace.
Harvey, who will replace Gee, allowed just 12 homers in 237 career innings, or 1 every 19.75 innings.  Long story short, the fences coming in will help the Mets’ hitters more than it will hurt their pitchers.

2)      Harvey coming back from Tommy John.  All reports sound promising, but will he be 100% Dark Knight when he returns?  Time will tell.

3)      Transitional uncertainty – Gee, Colon, and Niese have many combined years of big league experience, which counts for a lot.  It is also unclear if only Thor will join the rotation in 2015, or Matz or Montero will.

I see the starters going 72-48 with an ERA of 3.20 in 2015, a substantial jump over the 57-55, 3.67 of 2014, for all of the reasons above...plus I believe the offense will score 120 more runs in 2015.  More offense, more wins.


2014 RBIs
Projected 2015
First Base
Second Base
Third Base
Left Field
Center Field
Right Field
Pinch Hitting


Thomas Brennan said...

Just to continue the Leathersich discourse, I thought these excerpts from an Adam Rubin article last Saturday will show that he is thought of highly by Viola - IF he can fix his control, and that Jack knows it is priority 1 for him:

“You remember Sid Fernandez? He’s very much like Sid,” Viola said Saturday. “The ball comes out of his hand, it looks like it’s coming 100 mph. And you look at the radar gun, it’s 92. But it just sneaks up on you because of the angle of the arm slot.”

Leathersich....has K’d 334 batters in 197 1/3 professional innings. That’s a 15.2 strikeouts-per-nine-innings rate.

The area for improvement, though, is control....Backman recently compared Leathersich to former reliever Mitch Williams, whose nickname happened to be “Wild Thing.” Leathersich has walked 36 in 37 1/3 career Triple-A innings.

“All he’s got to do is slow down, take a deep breath and slow the pace of the game down, he’s going to be fine,” Viola said.

Said Leathersich: “My No. 1 thing this year is just to throw more strikes -- throw more offspeed for strikes. I’m not really worried about the strikeouts. I’m worried about getting the walks down, getting ahead of batters. I’ve seen in the past when I’ve struggled a little bit in Vegas, it’s getting behind guys and walking guys. So this year my motivation is to keep my same spice on the mound with definitely throwing more strikes.”

Viola agreed that getting ahead of hitters is the key. The best way to tempt batters to chase fastballs up and out of the strike zone for Ks is to have them defensive because they are behind in the count.

“Hitters aren’t going to chase balls when they’re 1-0, 2-0 all the time,” Viola said. “If he’s able to do that, his strikeout totals might not be as drastic as they are. But they will still stay [up] there.”

Mack's Mets © 2012